The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Men’s tennis heads for the Ivy

Iowa senior Nils Hallestrand serves the ball during the BIG Tens Single Championship in the Indoor Tennis Complex on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015. (The Daily Iowan/Courtney Hawkins)

The No. 64 Iowa men’s tennis team will head east this weekend to take on a pair of ranked opponents in the Big Ten/Ivy League Challenge.

The Hawkeyes will travel to Flushing, New York, on Saturday to take on No. 34 Princeton. The Tigers are is 0-1 on the year with a loss in Madison, Wisconsin, against the Badgers.

Iowa head coach Ross Wilson said the team has a goal of earning seven ranked wins this season. The Hawkeyes believe that number will be good enough to give them a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

With one ranked win already against then-No. 70 Utah State, the Hawkeyes have a golden opportunity to add to their record.

“We think it’s a very important weekend [to get ranked wins], and we have worked really hard to give ourselves the best chance to do so,” sophomore Jake Jacoby said. “Both teams are ranked ahead of us, but we think they are both winnable matches considering the effort and time we have put in this week.”

After its battle with Princeton on Saturday, the Hawkeyes will head to Ithaca on Jan. 31 to take on No. 47 Cornell.

The Big Red are 1-0 this season with its win coming against Buffalo.

Senior captain Dom Patrick said the team focused and practiced all week on the task at hand, and that it should carry over to the competition.

“The key to this weekend is building momentum in practice and on our previous win and carrying it over to this weekend,” he said. “If we can go out, and fire it up, and compete, then I like our chances. It will be a tough weekend, but if we are prepared, which I feel that we are, we can have a good weekend of tennis.”

The Hawkeyes certainly have a lot of momentum from their season-opener against Utah State, a 7-0 beatdown of the Aggies. Iowa only lost one set in singles play.

It is rare to have such an important weekend of tennis this early in the season, but the trip to the East puts Iowa in the middle of a pressure-packed situation.

Iowa split its Ivy League road trip last year, beating Yale, 5-2, but falling to Cornell, 4-2.

However, the Hawkeyes had four freshmen in their lineup last season. They will travel to New York this year with four returning starters plus junior Mississippi State transfer Robin Haden, who has plenty of experience in big matches.

If the Hawks could split again this year on the trip, they would be 2-1 with two ranked wins, and they would have plenty of opportunities to reach the mark of seven ranked wins.

If Iowa sweeps this weekend, it will be well on its way to an NCAA berth and will soar up the rankings.

Sophomore Lefteris Theodorou said he takes it upon himself to will his team to win.

“I think the most important thing I have to focus on is being competitive in order to play my best game so that I can put my team in winning positions,” he said. “This weekend will be a great test and a great opportunity for us to really do well and possibly beat some good teams and move up in the rankings.”


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